Although there are many things that will make the life of a traveling consultant easier, I think there a few that qualify as must-haves for anyone who travels for work on a weekly basis.
These may seem like common sense to most, but you’d be surprised by how many people with whom I speak who are not equipped with these tools designed to make travel more seamless.
A credit card used solely for work travel expenses.
This is a good idea for a couple of reasons. One, you’ll have everything on one card for any auditing purposes at the end of the year. Also, if there’s ever a discrepancy with a reimbursement, and you no longer have the receipt, you’ll easily be able to locate the charge and remedy the problem.
A laptop to use for work purposes.
Now, some organizations will provide consultants with a laptop for work use, but in most cases the contractor is responsible for providing his or her own computer. I would suggest having a work computer used solely, or at least primarily, for professional purposes, and keeping all personal data on another device. Furthermore, although this sounds like common sense, invest in a travel bag that makes sense for your weekly flights — something that you can easily get your laptop in and out of, something with a few extra pockets for important travel documents, etc.
A specific envelope or folder to keep all travel receipts.
By the end of a travel week, you may have five to ten receipts that you need to send in for reimbursement. If they’re in different places, it will be difficult to find and organize them into an expense report. If they’re kept in one place and organized by week, the process of reporting expenses will be much smoother.
A good scanner.
Along the same lines as keeping your receipts organized, a good scanner is a must-have for organizations in regard to expense reporting. For one thing, having all of your receipts scanned into one document at the end of each week will help when it comes to any issues and/or auditing at payment time. On another note, sending everything in on one document, neatly and readably, will present much better than having multiple documents in different formats. (Sadly, I’ve been sent a photo of a receipt taken on an unmade hotel bed, which, needless to say, doesn’t come across all that professionally.)
So, although the list could go on with things that may make traveling more convenient, the examples above are necessities. Not only will they make your life easier and your travel more organized and enjoyable, but they will also help you to create a professional image with your clients and employer.
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